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Office for Windows 10 will require Office 365 subscription on PCs, larger tablets

Gregg Keizer | July 16, 2015
Microsoft will soon strip the preview label off its Office for Windows 10 apps -- Excel, PowerPoint and Word -- and require an Office 365 subscription to use them on PCs, 2-in-1s and larger tablets running the new OS.

Computerworld asked Microsoft to flesh out the apps' licensing today, but instead Aul stepped in.

"Similar to what we announced in March, viewing and most editing will remain free for non-commercial use on devices of 10.1-in. or less," Aul said. "Otherwise, you will need a qualifying Office 365 subscription."

Aul pointed users toward the free Office Online browser-based apps as an alternative for those who do not have, and do not care to have, a rent-not-own subscription to Office 365.

The just-revised license agreement explained some of what Aul said.

Anyone who wants to use the apps for business purposes -- for work tasks, in other words -- must abide by the must-have-Office 365 rule. "Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote are licensed for your personal, non-commercial use, unless you have commercial use rights under a separate agreement [emphasis added]."

Microsoft did not elaborate on what that "separate agreement" might be, but Aul's warning that an Office 365 subscription would be required was backed up by the apps themselves. In the apps' Settings pane, under "About," the tag "License Information" showed a linked Office 365 account when that account "owns" an Office 365 subscription.

The Redmond, Wash. company also signaled that the Office for Windows 10 apps will be widely bundled with new Windows 10 devices. "If you acquired the software preinstalled on your device, the Microsoft Software License Terms you agreed to for Windows Operating System ('Windows OS License Terms') apply to your use of the Office Mobile Apps software," the license agreement read.

Thus Office for Windows 10 will be licensed differently than other mobile versions of the suite, including the apps for Apple's iPhone and iPad, and for smartphones and tablets powered by Google's Android.

Microsoft has treated Office on mobile platforms -- including touch on Windows 10 -- as an adjunct to the desktop suite, and so has been freeing some functionality. That means core features, like creating, editing, viewing, saving and printing documents are free for consumers. Some advanced features are blocked, and unlocked only if the user has a subscription to Office 365 Home or Office 365 Personal.

For Office for Windows 10 on PCs, hybrids -- like Microsoft's own Surface Pro 3 -- and tablets with screens 10.1-in. or larger measured diagonally, users will need an Office 365 subscription, either consumer- or commercial-grade, for all activities, even the core create-edit-save given away on Office for iPad and the Office Small app set.

Business customers must have a subscription such as Office 365 Business ($8.25 per user per month), Office 365 Business Premium ($12.50) or Office 365 Enterprise E3 ($20), to use the apps for work chores, whether Office Large or Office Small.

 

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